The pamphlet

Filmmaker Sjoerd Sijsma captured this first part of the process – Maartje Janse’s publishing on Willem Bosch and the performance of Ernst Jansz – in a video pamphlet. He complemented the film with historical images, he was able to find in public archives. Sjoerd’s reflection on this visual source material provides insight into how the colony and the people were perceived. He found a voyeuristic style of filming through which the broad acceptance of the phenomenon of (forced) cohabitation to which the ballad of Sarina and Kromo refers seems more comprehensible.

 

Exploitation & voyeurism

Halfway through the project, I made a short video in the form of a pamphlet. This pamphlet was combined with the performance of Ernst Jansz, the interview with Maartje Janse about her research on Willem Bosch and historical visual material, which gives the story a clear context.1

The stories of Maartje Janse and Ernst Jansz are both about exploitation in the Dutch Indies. Whereas Maartje’s story focuses on the first human-rights activist Willem Bosch, who occupied himself with economic and physical exploitation, the song by Ernst Jansz is also about mental and cultural exploitation. To convey this feeling in a clearer way, historical images have been added, spread over three different parts of the screen. These pictures alternate and merge with one another.

From the time of Willem Bosch, only a limited number of photographs and drawings are available. From 1900 onwards, the first moving pictures arrive. These moving pictures can be divided into three main categories:

  1. Images made for the promotion of the Dutch Indies, made for a Dutch audience
  2. Images made by prosperous colonizers about the wonderful life in the colonies
  3. Images about the beauty of the country, in which naked women play a prominent part

Looking at the freedom that (Western) film makers allowed themselves, especially in comparison with images that were made in the West, provides a shocking experience. In several films, which can be found on the Internet, a voyeuristic style of filming tells you the story of indigenous love. The broad acceptance of the phenomenon of (forced) cohabitation has become more comprehensible to me after seeing these films.

Ernst Jansz uses this theme in the first part of his song about the unlucky couple who were really made for each other, but have died early because of the colonizers. The second part of the song is about economic exploitation and puts the male perspective at the center of attention.

It would be very interesting to see if there are any similarities with the story of ‘Saïdjah and Adinda’, written by Multatuli.2

One could also look at the archival material left by Willem Bosch and see whether there is any information about the abuse of young women.

Stills from the pamphlet

 

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References

  1. For the pamphlet historical footage found on YouTube has been used. This list shows the original films and links to the post on YouTube:

    Nederlands Filmarchief, Oude filmbeelden van Nederlandsch-Indië, 1910-1915. Tempo doeloe I. [Old film images from the Dutch East Indies, 1910-1915. Tempo Doeloe I]. Films from Het Nederlands Koloniaal Instituut Amsterdam: Tocht per auto door Weltevreden (1923), De opening van de landbouwhogeschool te Kopo, Autotocht door Bandoeng (1913), De strafgevangenis van Batavia, Het Leven de Europeanen in Indie, Het leven van de Inlander in de Dessa. Sfeerbeelden van een lang vervlogen tijd.  [Tour by car through Weltevreden (1923), The opening of the agricultural college in Kopo, Car tour through Bandoeng (1913), The prison in Batavia, The life of Europeans in the Indies, The life of the inhabitants in the Dessa. Atmospheric images from a bygone era.] by J. C. Lamster. For more information about J.C. Lamster see the website of Eye Amsterdam. YouTube: Nederlands Indie 1910-1915.

    Nederlands Filmarchief, Oude filmbeelden van Nederlandsch-Indië, 1915-1925. Tempo doeloe II. [Old film images from the Dutch East Indies, 1910-1915. Tempo Doeloe II] Films from Het Nederlands Koloniaal Instituut Amsterdam: Nina het dienstmeisje gaat inkoopen doen. Schets uit het Indische leven (?); Bezoek aan een theeplantage (1914); De rijstbouw op droge velden bij de Karo-Bataks; Aankomst van de S.S. “Rumphius”; Het immigranten asyl. Voor gebrekkige koelies die niet naar hun land willen terugkeeren; Borneo (1919);  Jaarbeurs en pasar Malam by J. John (1923). [Nina the maid goes shopping. Sketch from life in the Indies (?); Visit to a tea plantation (1914); Rice cultivation on dry fields near the Karo-Bataks; Arrival of the S.S. “Rumphius”; The immigrant asylum. For disabled coolies who do not want to return to their country; Borneo (1919); Jaarbeurs and pasar Malam by J. John (1923).] YouTube: Oude filmbeelden van Nederlandsch-Indië, 1915-1925 Nederlandsch Indië (1915-1925) – Baboe Mina, Batak Karo, Balewan, Borneo (Nusantara Tempo Doeloe).

    Nederlands Filmarchief ,  Insulinde zooals het leeft en werkt 1927-1940. Tempo doeloe III & IV. [Insulinde as it lives and works 1927-1940. Tempo target III & IV] Compilation from the movies ‘Over mooie zeeën naar de tropen, Mooi Bandoeng, Heerlijke reizen in het Tenggerland, Excursie naar Indië’s machtige elementen, Langs Java’s mooie wegen, Bali, Lijkverbranding op Bali’. [‘Across beautiful seas to the tropics, Beautiful Bandoeng, Wonderful journeys in the Tenggerland, Excursion to the Indies’ powerful elements, Along Java’s beautiful roads, Bali,  Funeral pyre in Bali’] YouTube: Batavia, Bandung, Surakarta, Jogjakarta, Surabaya, Madura (1927 – 1940).

    It is interesting to note that Rudy Kousbrouk (see section Cees Fasseur and his critics) critically analyzed the Tempo doeloe films. Rudy Kousbroek, Warme roerloosheid; Tempo Doeloe op video. [Warm motionlessness; Tempo Doeloe on video] NRC Handelsblad. June 13, 1997. While the images recall warm memories of the land where he was born, he states: “Not all film images are pleasant to see. The ‘atmospheric images of Bandjermassin, the capital of Borneo, from which elephants, monkeys and tigers are exported to America’ ​​are sometimes unbearable to me. What is also striking in some old archive films is the self-evident Eurocentric sense of superiority: the Indonesians as interesting people of nature – something that now carries such an enormous taboo that in itself is gripping to see – and almost never as ordinary people with ordinary daily lives like ourselves. For example, there are important aspects of Dutch-Indonesian society that are completely ignored. It is striking, for example, that it seems that there were no Indos at the time: there were Europeans and Natives, and there was nothing in between. There is probably almost no film material about it: it would be worthwhile to gather everything that can be found in that area and to use it for a film dedicated to this subject.”

    NIOD, Nederlands – Indië tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog (Trailer) [Dutch East Indies during the Second World War (Trailer] April 5, 2012. Distributor Kolmio Media, Label Universal Music. YouTube: Nederlands Indié tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog Trailer.

    Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Inc Akron. O. The Island of Yesterday Sumatra Dutch east Indies, Motion Picture Division. Youtube: Sumatra Island of Yesterday 1920 Goodyear Rubber Plantations in the Dutch East IndiesLink to the movie at the Internet Archive, part of the Prelinger Archives.

    Eugene W.Castle. The World Parade, Bali Paradise. Castle Films, MCMXLVI. YouTube: Silent 8mm movie – The World Parade – Bali, Paradise Isle (ca.1930)

    Herman Drost, Indonesië ± 1930-1938 Sumatra. Post-processing Wim Heins. 2012. YouTube: Indonesia (Sumatra) dagelijks leven 1930-1938 [daily life]

    Willy Mullens, Batavia. Part 1. (1929). Deel 1.  Haghe Film, with support of the Ministry of Colonies and Education. Youtube: Batavia Jakarta 1929 old days Indonesia

    William M. Pizor. Virgins of Bali. Land of love and romance. Principal distributing corp. Produced and narrated by Deane H. Dickason. Youtube: Virgin of Bali2.flv.mp4 and The Virgin Of Bali 1926 Doc.

    YouTube: Bali 1910 [information about original film missing]

    YouTube:  Bali old video 12: circa 1935 The Island of Bali [information about original film missing]

    Online archives with historical films of Indonesia:

    Film Database Eye Film museum Nederlands-Indië

    Collection ‘De kolonie Nederlands-Indië’ Instituut Beeld en Geluid.

    YouTube channel Timescape Indonesia

  2. Multatuli (pseudonym of Eduard Douwes Dekker), Max Havelaar of de koffieveilingen der Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappy [Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company] (Amsterdam: J. de Ruyter, 1860), 233-254 (Chapter 17).